Tribe Lets Game Slide Away In Ninth; Twins 2, Indians 1
By Mike Brandyberry
A fantastic pitching performance by Justin Masterson was squandered in the ninth inning, as the Indians lost to the Minnesota Twins, 2-1 on Tuesday evening. Masterson threw seven and two-thirds of shutout baseball, allowing only four hits in a sweltering heat. The game time temperature was 94 degrees.
The game was tied until the top of the fifth inning when Lou Marson singled to right. Travis Buck was hit by a pitch in the head. Buck appeared ok, but was removed from the game, and replaced by Luis Valbuena. Ezeiquel Carrerra followed to load the bases. A hitter later, Asdrubal Cabrera hit a sacrifice fly to right and Marson scored giving the Tribe a 1-0 lead.
Once Buck was removed from the game, however, the Tribe only had two true outfielders. Michael Brantley was a late scratch for the game with a stomach virus and was unavailable. Valbuena was asked to replace Buck in left field after he was injured. Valbuena, who did work part of the season at Columbus in the outfield, had only played three outs in the major leagues in left field before Tuesday evening.
It did not seem to matter for a while, as Masterson cruised into the eighth, before Tony Sipp recorded the final out of the inning. Chris Perez entered for the ninth with a one-run lead. Perez was perfect in eleven one-run save situations entering the contest, however, as baseball seems to find the weak link, the ball found Valbuena in the bottom of the ninth.
Having not had an opportunity since entering the inning, Alexi Casilla flew out to left to start the inning before Joe Mauer walked. Michael Cuddyer hit a base hit to left field, but Valbuena was playing so deep he was able to extend it to a double and Mauer could take third base. Jim Thome was intentionally walked before Danny Valencia singled to left field. Valbuena, demonstrating an infielder’s arm, had little chance to throw out Mauer at the plate and the Twins had rallied for their 2-1 victory.
The defeat was especially disappointing since another outstanding performance by Masterson was wasted and the chance to take the third game of a four game series from the Twins. Instead, Josh Tomlin (11-4, 4.03) will be asked to avoid another series split while Nick Blackburn (7-6, 3.99) will toe the rubber for the Twins in another hot, hazy, day contest at 1:10 ET.